THE COMPARISON CURE
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God has graciously gifted me and blessed me, therefore, I am content.
Compare and despair.
That’s what a friend said to me once when I was comparing my writing to another, more gifted writer’s talents. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much better this author—whom I greatly admired—was, compared to me. I wanted desperately to be that good, that gifted, to be at her level. That’s when this friend wisely said, “Compare and despair.”
But there is an even greater, more sinful consequence to comparison than just despair: covetousness, which Colossians 3:5 says is idolatry (“adoration of an image; a grasping after”).
When I compared myself to this other writer, I was actually coveting (worshipping and grasping after) her talent, her God-given gift, while discounting my own God-given gift in the meantime.
Do you find it’s the same with you? Do you compare yourself to another, be it their appearance, their talent or spiritual gift, their athletic ability, their marriage or parenting skills, their home or vehicles, their wealth or health? Because, yes, when we compare/covet, of course it’s going to lead to despair, and to something else: discontentment. Possibly even morph into envy and jealousy. All sins. Perhaps that is why God included it in the Decalogue. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17).
When we compare/covet, we devalue our own unique, godly giftings and blessings, thoughtfully and wisely apportioned to us by the Holy Spirit Himself. He made no mistakes when He assigned to each individual. To one, He gifted as a teacher, to another a hair stylist, to another a doctor, to another an artist, to another a mechanic, and so forth. But, yet, we, in our flesh, sometimes question God’s goodness when it comes to our gifts and/or material goods. In this, sadly, we actually insult our gracious God.
What’s the cure? Contentment (“sufficiency; satisfaction”).
The Spirit-filled believer sees that what they have been gifted and blessed with and who they are in Christ as sufficient. They are satisfied with who God created them to be and what He’s provided them with.
But how to become content?
Practice. Contentment, the apostle Paul said, is a learned behavior (Philippians 4:12b). It takes practice. It takes time. It means that every time a comparison/covetous thought enters your mind, “take it captive to the obedience of Christ” and confess it. (2 Corinthians 10:5). It means learning to admire without feeling the need to acquire.
Thankfulness. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17). Thank God—really, genuinely thank Him!—for who He made you to be (the good, the bad, and even the ugly…for even our weaknesses bring Him glory and manifest His power) and all the blessings He’s graciously given you, both materially and spiritually.
King Solomon said it well in Ecclesiastes 6:9 (NLT). “Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have.”
Celebrate. Rejoice with and celebrate another’s giftings and blessings—whatever they are—because celebration has a wonderful way of correcting the spirit of comparison and covetousness (Romans 12:5).
Be encouraged. Be blessed.